If you use the same “elevator pitch” in every situation, I think you are making a huge mistake.
You need to use the right pitch at the right time. And while we on the topic of pitches, let me tell you that the old elevator pitch formula doesn’t cut it anymore!
You’ll need to use situational context and present your pitch in a way that is engaging and other-focused!
Oh, and it needs to be short and snappy!
Ditch the old formula…
I am a ____________________
with expertise in ___________________________
My background includes ____________________________
My unique qualifications are ________________________
Yep, ditch it! It sounds and feels like an old-fashioned resume objective (which, by the way, you don’t use any more!)
This isn’t a one-size-fits-all job search, so you’ll need to customize how you answer the question “what do you do” based on who you are talking to and where you are when you meet them!
What’s the Situation
Personally, I love asking people what they do for a living! It helps me stay up to date and builds my knowledge of career options. (And I’ve heard some doozies for a response to this question.)
Keep these three things in mind when before you blurt out your response:
Who is asking you this question?
Why do you think they are asking the question? Are they curious, maybe they have an open job to fill or maybe they are just being polite. Do you know what do they do or where they work?
If you know any of that information, be sure you ask about it!
The best rule of thumb is to not make your pitch too technical or use terminology the person may not understand. Pretend you are explaining what you do to an 8-year old so they understand what you are talking about and hopefully be more interested in your answer.
Where are you?
Are you at a business function, networking event, backyard barbeque? Business is business, fun is fun! Keep this in mind.
Don’t get all technical at an informal event. Keep it light. You may consider adding more about your personal interests or volunteer projects.
What is your agenda?
What is it that you want this person to remember about you? NO, you don’t want them to remember that you are a job seeker! So don’t confess you are unemployed when you introduce yourself!
First and foremost, I think you want them to remember you!
You are far more likely to be remembered if you are genuine and show interest in the person you are talking with.
No one cares about what you used to do
Is this your pitch?
“I used to work for XYZ Company as a Project Manager.”
This doesn’t help and no one cares.
What I mean is, talking about your past company and job does not help anyone understand what you want to do next. Remember, this person is not interviewing you, they are just curious. So give them something helpful and memorable!
By stating your past job title and employer, you haven’t provided much information to remember and I am probably not going to be interested in what you are saying. Plus it is past-tense. Not future-oriented!
“I recently graduated and am seeking a job.”
This stinks too! Who cares that you recently graduated. What does that really tell someone anyway?
- It tells me you have no work experience
- And I don’t know what you want to do!
Instead, focus on what you want to do with your degree. Did you have an internship that got your excited about a career? That is much more interesting. Talk about that instead.
Personal Brand Statements Are Much More Fun!
Jorgen Sundberg, The Undercover Recruiter, writes a lot about the personal brand statement and suggests your personal brand statement answers these three questions:
1. What problem do you solve
2. How you do it uniquely
3. Whom you do it for
Use A Micro-Pitch Instead.
No one will listen to you for a full 60 seconds or even 45 seconds unless they have to.
You’re much better off creating a short, snappy micro-pitch.
The purpose of the micro-pitch is to get the person interested in asking you more questions. Sharing something personal or genuine about yourself and begin a conversation!
Learn more and see examples of micro-pitches here.
The Bottom Line
You MUST have an answer ready! Practice it! Deliver it and gauge the results!
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.